NYSUT VOTE-COPE Expenditure Categories Explained

  • Rebates to NYSUT Locals (Local Assistance and Local Educational Issues): This section represents the VOTE-COPE local assistance and local educational issues rebate programs. Under the local assistance rebate program, 20% of the previous year’s V-C contributions are made automatically to all locals contributing $100 or more. Additionally, upon request, locals may receive a local educational issues rebate of up to 20% of the local’s previous year’s contributions to V-C for use in school budget votes and school board elections.
  • Contributions to Major and Statewide Political Committees: 21% of VOTE-COPE expenditures are made under this category. The General Political Committees include but are not limited to the New York State Democratic Committee, the New York Republican State Committee, the general campaign committees of the Assembly and the state Senate and national committees. VOTE-COPE makes contributions directly to these committees in order to maximize our influence with the various party leaders. Tickets for fundraisers to various state and county political events are also purchased under this line item, as a means of making contributions to candidates and to committees, to increase NYSUT’s visibility with the candidates. This enables legislative leaders to move individual members into support of NYSUT’s positions.
  • Direct Contributions to Assemblypersons: This section represents contributions and ticket purchases made to individual Assembly candidates endorsed by NYSUT.
  • Direct Contributions to Senators: This section represents contributions and ticket purchases made to individual Senate candidates endorsed by NYSUT.
  • Direct Contributions to Candidates for Statewide Office: This category encompasses contributions to candidates for statewide political offices. Recipients would include endorsed candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and State Comptroller.
  • Legislative and Political Action Expenses: This category encompasses expenses incurred in the production of regional VOTE-COPE political action activities including those undertaken by NYSUT's political action committee. Reimbursement of Committee of 100 expenses are included here.
  • Media Campaign Expenses: This category represents costs associated with radio, television and print media purchased as part of our lobbying efforts on state aid to public education.
  • Federal Election Expenditures: This category encompasses expenses related to the election of NYSUT members to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and federal election mailings.
  • VOTE-COPE Administrative Expenses: This category shows the expenditures made in connection with running the VOTE-COPE drive such as processing the contributions received by VOTE-COPE and expenses incurred by the VOTE-COPE Coordinators.
  • VOTE-COPE Materials Expenses: As the name indicates, this item covers VOTE-COPE campaign materials such as posters, brochures, contribution forms, plaques and ribbons, and special events at the Representative Assemblies.
What criteria are used by NYSUT to select candidates for endorsement?

The primary consideration is the candidate's positions on educational and labor issues and where the candidate is an incumbent, his or her voting record. The "record" could include information regarding sponsorship of NYSUT legislation, committee votes and party caucus positions, if available. Other considerations include the leadership and/or committee responsibility of the incumbent legislator, and the ability of the challenger to be a viable candidate.

How does NYSUT determine a candidate's stand on non-educational and non-labor issues such as abortion, gun control, etc.?

It doesn't. NYSUT's membership represents a wide spectrum of political views. The only assumption, which is made, is that the great majority of our members agree on the basic NYSUT/AFL-CIO legislative programs. Consideration of other issues would most probably be divisive and counterproductive.

What chance do NYSUT members get to provide input into the endorsement of local candidates?

Any endorsement may be initiated by a president of a local, or member of  NYSUT's Board of Directors. These recommendations are discussed at a biennial Presidents' Conference on Endorsements prior to their official presentation to the NYSUT Board of directors.

Why don't rank and file NYSUT members get to vote on endorsed candidates?

The entire system of teacher political action depends upon the participation of the rank and file members of NYSUT. They supply the votes, the workers and the money to support or oppose candidates for office. NYSUT relies on your local leadership to accurately represent you at the Local Presidents Conference on Endorsements.

What role do local presidents play in NYSUT's endorsements?

Local input on endorsement decisions is vital. The local president serves as the voice of each local's membership. In order to ensure that the views of each local are heard, NYSUT conducts a Local Presidents Conference on Endorsements during the summer months prior to each general election. Every local is invited to attend, and funding for travel and other expenses is provided to guarantee that financial considerations do not prevent any local from being represented. At the Local Presidents Conference, endorsements are discussed in regional groupings that provide the opportunity for each local president to give input on the races in his or her area. Every attempt is made to achieve a consensus view on each race (i.e., whether to make an endorsement or to remain neutral) before the recommendation is carried to the NYSUT Board of Directors for formal endorsement. Clearly, the local president plays an extremely important role in the endorsement procedure.

I am a republican. Why should I support NYSUT candidates when so many of the endorsed candidates are democrats (or vice versa)?

NYSUT and VOTE/COPE are non-partisan and intend to remain non-partisan. Both Democrats and Republicans have been endorsed in the state legislature and in Congress. Political party affiliation is not a consideration in endorsement. In the words of former NYSUT president Thomas Hobart: "Our rigorous endorsement process ignores political affiliation, putting a premium on candidates from all parties―Democrat or Republican―who truly understand and support the concerns of our diverse membership. From our legislative department's careful monitoring of incumbents' voting records to our NYSUT leaders' biennial endorsement conference, the endorsement test is the same: Which candidates―regardless of political affiliation, Democrat or Republican―understand the workplace issues and the health and safety concerns of our members and their families? The endorsement process is open and democratic (with a small "d"). And it doesn't occur in a vacuum. Along with organized labor in New York State and across the nation, we're moving forward together. . . The endorsement process is demanding and detail-driven. And it works."

If VOTE-COPE has been so successful, why are our property taxes so high?

New York State's system of taxation is inherently unfair. In fact, some states have declared our property tax system of funding unconstitutional. One of the main causal factors regarding high property taxes is Albany's refusal to properly fund public education. New York State's percentage contribution to public education funding is one of the lowest in the country, causing this burden to fall more heavily on local property owners. Without VOTE-COPE efforts, the State's contributions would likely fall even more.

Why shouldn't I contribute directly to the candidate of my choice, rather than VOTE-COPE?

he primary objective of VOTE/COPE is to support those candidates who generally support the NYSUT legislative program. It is essential that the elected officials and candidates for office clearly recognize the link between the union's political arm and its legislative program. VOTE/COPE as a PAC representing collectively more than 600,000 members wields considerably more influence than any individual or local.